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memri
February 8, 2013 No.
927

Tracking Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV Online Part III: Removed From Servers In Netherlands And U.S. As A Result Of MEMRI Reports - And Now Again Hosted On Servers In U.K And U.S.; Technical Contact Name For Control Of DNS Record For Al-Manar Website - Located In Hawaii

Introduction

Over the past year, MEMRI has been researching the online activity of the designated terrorist organization Hizbullah,[1] including its accounts on social media – YouTube,[2] Twitter,[3] and Facebook[4] – and Hizbullah apps.[5] As MEMRI reports have highlighted, Hizbullah's most important online vehicle is the website for its TV network, Al-Manar.


(To view the full chart, click here)

In a two-part series published in late 2012, MEMRI examined the Al-Manar website and the ISPs that host it:

  1. MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 895, {{nodeurl-6797.ht">Al-Manar TV, Banned By The U.S. And U.K., Now Hosted On U.K. And Netherlands Servers, November 8, 2012
  2. MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 905,
    Al-Manar website not loading; captured December 5, 2012.

    Currently, the site is hosted by two servers – ServerSpace Limited in London, U.K., and Vault Networks in the U.S. MEMRI has contacted both companies to inform them that they are hosting the website, but to date neither has taken significant action.

    U.S. State Dept Counterterrorism Coordinator Says U.S. Is Prioritizing "Steps To Crack Down" On "Hizbullah Terrorist Activity" And Has "Launched A Whole-Of-Government Approach To Counter Hizbullah... Including Increased Law Enforcement, Intelligence, And Diplomatic Initiatives" – Yet Al-Manar Website Is Hosted In U.S.

    On December 18, 2012, in an address at the Brookings Institute, Ambassador-at-large Daniel Benjamin, coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, noted that "Hizbullah's terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa and, it appears, the group has carried out an attack in Bulgaria" and that "taking steps to crack down on all of these activities has been a top priority, and we have launched a whole-of-government approach to counter Hizbullah... including increased law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic initiatives.

    He said that the U.S. is targeting Hizbullah's finances, "including the seizure of $150 million from the Lebanese Canadian Bank, which had facilitated a vast narcotics and money-laundering scheme. We are urging countries to take a wide range of steps to crack down on Hizbullah... including through sanctions, increased law enforcement/intelligence focus, and through strong public messaging. We've been engaging with our partners in Europe, and we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for an EU designation of the group. We’ve been regularly working with our partners in other regions and countries where Hizbullah has a significant presence and infrastructure, including in Southeast Asia, South America, and West Africa. We’re pleased with the progress we’re making and will continue to take action so Hizbullah recognizes that its behavior is unacceptable and it can no longer operate with impunity, both at home and abroad."[6]

    MEMRI Contacts ServerSpace

    On December 18, 2012, MEMRI spoke to ServerSpace managing director Tim Dufficy, and informed him that his company was hosting the Al-Manar TV website on its servers. Mr. Dufficy responded that as long as the client abides by the law of the land, the client can continue to operate. As far as Mr. Dufficy knew, Hizbullah, and thus Al-Manar TV, had not been designated as terrorist by the U.K.,[7] and that until he received a complaint from U.K. authorities, he could do nothing about removing the website. He concluded by saying that he appreciated MEMRI's call and would continue to monitor the issue. It should be noted the UK has designated Hizbullah’s military wing a terrorist organization, but Al-Manar as the media arm is currently not under such designation.

    Contact Information For ServerSpace

    ServerSpace (www.serverspace.co.uk ), which is London-based, gives its contact phone number as +44 (0) 207 129 7005 and 0800 142 2882. The website also provides a form to contact it (http://serverspace.co.uk/forms/contact-us.html ) as well as a form to request a callback (http://serverspace.co.uk/forms/request-call-back.html ).

    MEMRI Contacts Vault Networks

    MEMRI also contacted Vault Networks to inform the company that it was hosting the Al-Manar TV website, posting information about its hosting of Al-Manar on its website abuse form and then, on December 14, 2012, leaving a voicemail on its abuse line. Then, on December 17, MEMRI contacted the company via the latter's online chat to inform it of the issue. The chat operator instructed MEMRI to post the information to the website again, noting that this was the second such posting. Finally, on December 21 MEMRI spoke to a data center technician at the company, who said that Vault Networks appreciated MEMRI's information and considered it a serious matter, but that it needed more than "just a phone call" to begin the process of treating it as a case of abuse. He set out the steps that needed to be taken, and MEMRI followed through on those requirements, including sending a letter outlining the concern via Return Receipt, which was signed for by Vault Networks.

    Contact Information For Vault Networks

    The Miami-based Vault Networks website (www.vaultnetworks.com) provides a contact page with phone numbers and a contact form (http://www.vaultnetworks.com/contact-us/), along with an option to "message us." Its 24-hour abuse complaint contact phone numbers are given as 305-735-8098 (Option 4) or 888-694-8557 (Option 4), and its abuse email address is given as [email protected].

    Al-Manar Website Controlled By American University, Beirut

    Following MEMRI's publication of Part II of its series, Tracking Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV Online: Removed From Servers In Netherlands And U.S. As A Result Of MEMRI Reports – And Now Hosted On Servers In U.K., the Jawa Report website, which monitors terrorism investigations[8] and where volunteers research websites they believe are tied to Al-Qaeda and other such groups and pressure ISPs to stop hosting the sites,[9] suggested another method of getting the Al-Manar website shut down. A post on Jawa Report stated that a "better strategy would be to enforce the sanction against Al-Manar's DNS [domain name server] record" – that is, to prevent Hizbullah/Al-Manar TV from obtaining an IP address at all. It continues: "Since Hizbullah is a specially designated terrorist group in the Netherlands, the U.S., and the U.K., it is those nations' responsibility to freeze [its] asset[s]" which it states are currently valued at some US$16,328."[10]

    Al-Manar website's DNS record is controlled by the American University of Beirut, as follows:[11]

    American University of Beirut
    organisation: Computing and Networking Services
    address: Bliss Street
    address: P.O. Box 11.0236
    address: Beirut
    address: Lebanon

    contact: technical
    name: Randy Bush
    address: PO Box 128
    address: Kapa'au Hawai'i 96755
    address: United States
    e-mail: [email protected][12]

    Technical Contact Name Listed For Control Of DNS Record For Al-Manar Website: Randy Bush, Hawaii

    As seen above, the technical contact listed for control of the DNS record for the Al-Manar website is one Randy Bush, in Hawaii.

    "Randy Bush Bio Sketch" states: "[I am] an ex-compiler, realtime kernel hack, and a software engineering manager, I have over 45 years in the computer industry. I have been a user and occasional implementer of networking in the US from the ARPANET to the current day internet." It also says "I work as a Fellow at Internet Initiative Japan Research Lab."[13]

    The Jawa Report noted that in response to its request to Mr. Bush that Hizbullah's DNS record be frozen, Mr. Bush response was: "ahh, the zionist net police. go fuck yourselves murderers."[14]

    Appendix I: Whois Lookup For Al-Manar Website (www3.almanar.com.lb)

    organisation: American University of Beirut
    organisation: Computing and Networking Services
    address: Bliss Street
    address: P.O. Box 11.0236
    address: Beirut
    address: Lebanon

    contact: administrative
    name: Nabil Bukhalid
    organisation: American University of Beirut
    organisation: Computing and Networking Services
    address: Bliss Street
    address: P.O. Box 11.0236
    address: Beirut
    address: Lebanon
    phone: +961 1 749 116
    fax-no: +961 1 749 116
    e-mail: [email protected]

    contact: technical
    name: Randy Bush
    address: PO Box 128
    address: Kapa'au Hawai`i 96755
    address: United States
    e-mail: [email protected]

    nserver: FORK.STH.DNSNODE.NET 2a01:3f0:0:306:0:0:0:53 77.72.229.254
    nserver: NS1.DNS.AQ 203.119.56.132
    nserver: RIP.PSG.COM 147.28.0.39 2001:418:1:0:0:0:0:39
    nserver: ZEINA.AUB.EDU.LB 193.188.128.14
    ds-rdata: 16682 8 2 40dd7553579354618aac11783d0385cd6d6b0f31c7fcf6719609b04a08c2f11b

    status: ACTIVE
    remarks: Registration information: http://www.aub.edu.lb/lbdr

    created: 1993-08-25
    changed: 2012-09-06
    source: IANA[15]

    *Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of MEMRI; R. Sosnow is head editor at MEMRI.

    Endnotes:

    [1] While some European countries have not recognized Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, the U.K. and Netherlands, like the U.S., officially classify it as a terrorist organization. The U.K. lists Hizbullah's military wing as a terrorist group, while the Netherlands, like the U.S., does not distinguish between Hizbullah's political and military wings and considers the entire group to be a terrorist organization. Notably, in January 2006, Netherlands officials blocked Al-Manar satellite broadcasts to the country, and formally banned the channel. As recently as August 9, 2012, at the sidelines of EU Foreign Ministries meeting in Cyprus, the British and Netherlands governments called on the entire EU to follow their lead and designate Hizbullah an official terrorist organization and to impose sanctions on its military wing. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 895, {{nodeurl-6797.ht">Al-Manar TV, Banned By The U.S. And U.K., Now Hosted On U.K. And Netherlands Servers, November 8, 2012.

    [6] U.S. State Department, [7] See Endnote 1, above.

    [8] Boston.com, March 8, 2009.

    [9] NYTimes.com, March 11, 2011.